In May I went to Yunnan, China.
Many people say it's a really beautiful place, and yes, indeed it was!
We went to Kunming, Dali, Lijiang, and Zhongdian (Shangri la). The best places were Lijiang and Shangri la. I would say Shangri la was the best. If you like to see minority tribes of China, you have to go to Yunnan, it has the greatest congregation of the different minority tribes.
Kunming is more or less like a small city, Dali is more of ancient history, Lijiang is artistic, Shangri la is laid back and peaceful. In terms of minority tribes - Dali is more of Bai tribe people, Lijiang is Naxi tribe, Shangri la is Tibetan. I personally find the Tibetans more down to earth and honest.
While in Shangri la, I had a deep fear of coming back to hectic and burdensome Singapore, something I have never felt in any of my travels. Open plains, snowy mountains, tibetan styled houses, and yaks are typical of Shangri la scenery. Everything seem to slow down even your mind (maybe because of the high altitude 3300 m on average).
Shika snow mountain ard 4500 m
This is the beautiful plain halfway up Shika mountain, but full of yak excrement.
This is the temple with the biggest prayer wheel in the world.
You need a whole bunch of people to turn the wheel.
In Lijiang, you don't want to miss the ancient town (although it is much commercialized)
And you have to watch impression Lijiang - the open air sing and dance performance by the minority tribes, with Yu long snow mountain as the backdrop.
Yu long snow mountain. Thereafter you can take a bus up to see a clear blue river and natural rock formations.
Yunnan was having one of it's worse droughts when we went. Even the Black dragon pool was dried up! A time to reflect on what we are doing to our planet.
And to stop eating meat :)
On the flight on board china eastern airlines, I had their VGML.
(Digress: About in-flight meals, during a previous post, I had wrote in to to Singapore airlines to confirm that the VJML served on board SIA is vegan. Unfortunately, despite that confirmation, I had some doubts over my last VJML meal, it seemed to be served with some non-vegan food. And worse, VJML is not suppose to contain root vegetables for the Jains, in the salad, there were raw onion slices. So I am not sure they really stick to what they claim. Besides, sometimes the flight seem to serve food that was for another airline, and different airlines have different standards of what they claim. From now on, I would advice readers to stick to VOML or VGML only.)
While I was at Kunming, I manage to taste the veg version of Crossing bridge rice noodles 过桥米线. It was unlike any other rice noodles I have ever eaten - extremely smooth! (Reminds me of the smooth tau huay at Bai Shui Zhai)
Tibetan Tsampa... something I have always longed to tried. Especially a vegan, fat-free version that do not use yak butter. Now I managed to fulfill my dreams! Yay!
To do a vegan version, use plain tea instead of buttered tea. Or if you find some margarine maybe it works. Put the tsampa into your tea.
Put one finger into the mix near the side of the cup. Rotate the cup with your other hand until the tsampa start to become lumps like this. I added a bit of sugar because it was practically tasteless. The texture was a little bit like lumps of the peanut+sugar use in mua chee plus a little bit of wet flour. Wasn't fantastic, but certainly a good staple for your travels.
China always has it's fair share of animal cruelty. Something that you basically cannot avoid wherever you go, but then, the difference is theirs is more open with parts of animal hanging everywhere, while in our countries, the cruelty is "behind the scences" and "processed till it doesn't look cruel".
Anti fur and you will jump at this.
This is a whole pig. Preserved and air dried in the dry climate of Yunnan. Our guide said it can be eaten up to 10 years! A certain mix of disgust and cruelty.
Despite this, I would still suggest you go to Yunnan - especially Shangri la and Lijiang. These are the places you don't want to miss.
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